2 dead, many wounded as police disperse Philippine farmers

Officials say at least two people have been killed and dozens wounded when gunfire erupted as police attempted to clear a 4-day-old protest by farmers in the southern Philippines.

Cotabato provincial Gov. Emmylou Mendoza says two people died and nine were wounded Friday among farmers and their supporters in the provincial capital of Kidapawan. A journalist at the site counted 13 injured protesters.

Provincial police chief Alexander Tagum says 23 police officers have been wounded, including one in critical condition. National police chief Ricardo C. Marquez has ordered an investigation.

The farmers, who have been demanding government financial aid in the wake of a seven-month drought in the province, say the police fired at them. Police say some of the protesters were armed and fired first.